Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Meet up with exes only if they behaved decently
Massachusetts: I'm supposed to meet up with two exes this weekend (separately) who are both in from out of town. I know the relationships ended for a good reason, which I'm cool with, but why can't I shake the sudden sickness in my stomach about seeing them? I'd like to see them to fortify the strides I've made since they ended, but are these two situations I should avoid? For the record, they reached out to me.
Carolyn: Two in one weekend! That's like celebrating your dramatic weight loss by hosting a bake sale.
If you avoid seeing them just to alleviate the dread, then you'll likely come to regret it.
If, on the other hand, you have a history of getting teased, abused or reeled back in, then dodging might make sense. One of the biggest strides a person can take, after all, is to realize there's no need to prove anything to anybody. If you feel you need to show them both how far you've come, then you haven't come as far as you think.
Whether it's healthy to see these guys is really a matter of how toxic they were to you. If their behavior with you was decent, then push through the dread and go. If they treated you badly, then going could end up feeling like yet another capitulation, right when you thought you had finally gotten your strength back.
Face the real issues with former fiance
Anonymous: I broke off my engagement to my boyfriend of five years about three months ago. We decided to stay together — we hadn't fallen out of love, I just realized I wasn't ready to get married. He said he would wait until I was ready. There was some awkwardness at first, but we were working though it.
Recently we went to a wedding of a close friend of mine. At a few points during the wedding, I got slightly depressed because everyone around me seemed so happy. And though I'm not unhappy with my boyfriend, I'm not as happy as I used to be before the non-engagement.
And now since the wedding, I've been questioning my feelings. I realize this may have been a unique situation given the proximity of the wedding to the broken engagement. I would just like another point of view on the situation.
Carolyn: Treating this as a "unique situation" is the bud of a rationalization. Letting it flower would be a mistake.
Milestones, and for some reason weddings in particular, have a way of locating all the little emotional stuff you shove to the side, gathering it up into a heap and throwing it out on the table. What they don't do is pitch in on the cleanup.
You've told yourself that you're "working through" your problem with your boyfriend — but I think all that stuff on the table will tell you there's still something wrong, something you're loath to take on.
Presumably, it's that this boyfriend isn't the guy, but it was easier to face when you told yourself this wasn't the time. But only you know what it really is. Sort it out, face it, take it on, no matter how much it hurts. That's what your sadness was saying.